I do a lot with language. Language is a vehicle for connection, communication, decisions, poetry, understanding, so much more...
I was raised bilingually (English and Hebrew) which gave me the understanding that there are different ways to say things. There isn't simply one way. Not everyone understands the same language or the same words. What you know to describe in one language may not explain it to someone else, similarly, you can use different words to explain the "same thing". I don't know the word for something, but I know different words that can get my meaning across. Communication may take some work. Sometimes people don't understand, but we can try a few different times or ways... and get to understanding. These are lessons that being bilingual helped me recognize.
I spend a lot of time looking at my language. I write. I see what I write. I think about other ways to say "it" or look at continuing the path. Okay I said something, what now? What does it mean to say something? What does it mean to write something? Can we move on? Have we DONE something? What do we expect to accomplish with language?
What do we expect to accomplish with our thoughts, with our minds?
I appreciate communicating with people that pay close attention to language. I see it like visual resolution, to some degree. People that ignore words, sort of see blurry to me. Or perhaps it's like moving, but being very stiff, and missing out on vital nuance, ultimately having a far inferior experience.
We can express ourselves in ways that inspire, uplift, amuse... and also intimidate, offend, confuse... We can speak as though our words have no likelihood of meaning and impact... or we could have some sense of potential. Some sense that perhaps we are panning for gold or something. That we are maybe going to magically say something of great import, interest, or influence.
We each express ourselves uniquely as a "whole" and in each iteration. Which is why I developed a technique to assess and address my thinking towards achieving what I want and performing how I'd like. This may seem like an obvious idea, but it's remarkably under-explored and under-utilized at large.
Think about HOW you describe ANYTHING meaningful in your life:
How are your finances? Your health? Your relationships?
You almost certainly can use words to describe these things, the words you use are almost certainly SUBJECTIVE reflecting your own fallible perceptions and decisions. You almost certainly are NOT simply purely describing some kind of unchanging objective truth, but rather you are revealing your opinions and choices.
Example: How's your finances... "well in this economy making $35 an hour is really good and I can't do any better... I'm not a software engineer".
Okay. That may be great thinking. It could be ideal to be grateful for $35 and software engineering may not be an ideal path for the person. However, we could still look at the language and evaluate it. Is it actually true that they can't do better? Is it not true that they could potentially develop the skills? What does it mean that $35 an hour is good? What do they do with their income? Are they investing it optimally? Maybe $35 an hour is actually WAY more than enough to achieve whatever they really want to achieve when it comes to finances? Maybe working less would be a more helpful goal for them at this moment than working more. It all depends on the person... that's sort of the point... the language can flesh this out.
It's not up to me to just tell a person they should try and learn to code or go on a certain path. That's not my role. But a person's own thoughts can reveal their interests and reveal irrational ideas, limiting beliefs, mental blocks, unexplored territory, etc...
My hypothesis is that more truthful, accurate, expansive thinking is beneficial, and that if we can discover clearly irrational, untrue, or limiting thinking... it's worthwhile to replace it with truthful thinking.
So if someone says "no one is making it in today's economy", we can correct that to a thought that actually sounds honest like "almost everyone I know is struggling" or "most people I know are struggling" or "I have really been struggling and having trouble believing there's a way out!"
What comes from that last thought? They may start thinking of a way out instead of just claiming that they're stuck in some actual pit with no way of climbing up out of it. We CAN believe we're in a pit when we're not. We CAN believe possible things are impossible... but we don't always know what we believe. We don't always know what our operating principles are. Language can reveal that. But for this to work, I think we need to be ready to see very stupid thoughts, very weak attitudes, and very strong or difficult emotions we carry. Similarly, I think we ought to be willing to see that our "good ideas" may still be significantly off base when we consider certain aspects.
It may seem obvious that mosquitoes are annoying and transmit diseases... when has a mosquito ever been beneficial to anyone? Really simple! Eradicate them all! And yet, perhaps that would lead to total devastation of the bird population or other animals that eat mosquitoes, maybe this leads to dramatic change in foliage, weather, etc... and the world ends up a worse place because of the missing mosquitoes. I don't know, but that seems reasonable enough to consider.
Similarly, any thinking we have could be off base... certainly can be off base when we consider different values. What's good for us might be bad for someone else. However, this doesn't have to stop us from being productive with our thoughts. We can simply at least check if our thoughts seem to be working for us.
Are our thoughts seemingly helpful? Are they true? Are they on a path towards where we want to go?
Some thoughts are merely emotional complaints in word forms - curses!
!$!%$@!%^!!! This SUCKS!!!!! - that's a thought, an emotion, a strong "idea"... and where does it go? Maybe a person takes this complaint towards optimal behavior... but we could also be stuck in the common approach to thinking which is simply to just believe and accept the first thought. The situation DOES suck. That's it. Women really are mean. Men really are jerks. The economy really does suck. It really is impossible to get healthy. Etc... etc...
What if we looked into "what's under the hood"? What if we tried to actually "drive the car"? Most people are just being driven by their thoughts and emotions... what if they took charge?
Realize that thoughts lead somewhere. If you want to go somewhere else, think different thoughts. If you want to think different thoughts, look at what you're thinking now, then iterate and iterate again.
You CAN recognize higher and lower quality thinking. You can set performance markers and evaluate how well thoughts achieve them.
Where do I want to go, and where are these thoughts leading me?
You can not only learn a new language, but also chart the path in that language.
When I start trying to put together some thoughts or writing in a new language, I often face the simple fact that I lack the words to express the thoughts! So I have to grapple with learning and choosing and recognizing fallibility. Maybe I don't know how to express my thoughts, maybe I don't know what I'm thinking, maybe I am thinking wrong... these are useful considerations. Being a beginner at thinking, for a bit, might be very good for you.
Just continually considering that thoughts can be different, that you must learn more to think more, learn more to express better... can help.
We get used to just trusting our thoughts and our words. Maybe we "have to". You start talking and things just flow, right? You don't normally pause before each word and consider it like a linear building block that comes one at a time as you build your idea. What is it like to think about something when you don't have the words to think? Learning a different language can give you that experience... and then it feels more intentional to gather the words to express the idea... that's a bit closer to intentional thinking - responsible thinking.
It seems most people do not really take responsibility for their thoughts. "Thoughts just arise... thoughts go in one ear out the other at a mile a minute and I can't control my brain"... but is it true that the person can't control it? Or is it that they haven't learned? Why wouldn't we be able to direct our mind? We can direct our bodies, we can deliberately read certain things, we can deliberately think about certain things... who says we can't direct our mind?
It makes sense that we don't immediately just assert we can think anything at anytime and just jump from idea and context to a completely different world in an instant - that may result in some kind of insanity... but it doesn't make sense either that we shouldn't take major responsibility for the thoughts we have and our subjective thinking on the world.
Even if we think purely on "objective" sense data, our thinking would be limited to the information we have... if we have to make decisions based on that limited data, we end up guessing, biasing, CHOOSING.
Is that a good person or a bad person? Should we trust them? Or keep distance? Should we eat that food or pick something else? Which road should we take? Isn't it obvious that somewhere we are making choices and NOT simply being RUN by some automatic-truth-oracle in our minds?
So why not take more responsibility? Why not find out more about our decision making? Why not RECOGNIZE where we have made decisions, but look at it as though it was decided for us?
I am fat because the food at the store is too tasty. I am fat because no one taught me how to exercise or eat right. I am fat because it's too hard to learn to change. I am sad because I'm lonely. I'm lonely because no one wants to be my friend. I can't learn anything because it's too hard. Whatever. These are REAL thoughts that have real impact. A person thinks them, validates them, experiences strong emotions, and will often respond with some behavior that "makes sense" in context - well life is hard so I deserve something for it like a candy or chips or drugs or escape. Life is hard, so I don't need to try and fight a battle I know I will lose. It's smarter not to!
But what if all these thoughts are seen as choices and seen as though there's a developing opportunity to THINK AGAIN. Okay, I just thought life is too hard, what's next? Maybe I can go from "Life is too hard" to "Life feels too hard for me right now" to "This specific task seems insurmountable... but I would LIKE to overcome this, I would LIKE to achieve what's on the other side of this... I would LIKE to accomplish many things... I WOULD LIKE TO USE MY ENERGY WISELY..."
A person can end up having certain mantras like "I would like to make better decisions when possible" "I would like to think about things better when possible"... and certain ideas of the context of thought.
If someone has the idea that their thoughts are just reflections of reality and things that they're not responsible or accountable for... they may not see the meaning of the context of thought as much...
What is the context of thought? Well it could mean recognizing that thoughts are outcomes within a field of possibilities. We could think much less functional thoughts or possibly much MORE functional thoughts. There are relatively reliable principles by which certain thoughts work. For example, thoughts about a certain topic tend to lead to other thoughts connected to that topic. Questions tend to produce answers relevant to the question.
"How can I earn more money?" Tends to result in answers related to you earning more money.
"How can I do better?" Tends to result in answers related to doing better.
Not considering that you could do better, would likely result in not thinking about how to do better. Fortunately, there are many things where we need not consciously think about doing better in order to do better. Did you consciously and deliberately train to walk or talk or was it more like some built in system? That can be fine, if not ideal in certain contexts... but let's say we want to make things better... working with our thoughts will help.
So there's an idea of "I could be thinking better" "I could be performing better" "Much better performance opportunities EXIST" "There's something I could do that massively improve my results" "There are discoveries to be made"... the list goes on. People that believe in God may say something like "All things are possible in Jesus name" or something along those lines. "Anything's possible" is quite an idea. What if we applied it when working on ourselves? I have certainly forgotten this context on more times than not!
What would happen if we both maintain awareness of who's responsible AND awareness of what's possible?
What is possible, anyways?
There are so many situations where we really don't know definitively what's possible, though there are also most situations where we have some idea of a range of possibilities that are realistic and relevant.
We CAN deliberately look at what our ideas of relevant context is, what we're thinking, and make significant impacts by doing this.
What's definitively possible for a person is often defined by many potential outcomes from future choices. Can you buy a house? Well, can you make mortgage payments? Well, will you continue to work at your job? What lies in your future? Well, what are you going to do? What aren't you going to do?
You have specific ideas about aspects of your life and based on those ideas you behave certain ways.
I used to have trouble simply stating that my fee for a consulting service was $20. Overtime and thinking, I realized that it was fine to offer my services at whatever prices I chose and the market can sort it out. But the beliefs really impacted me. I since then started multiple services charging much more than $20 - with much happier clients! But again, my thinking made the difference. Thinking can determine behavior.
Do you believe you can learn a new language? Many people believe that if you don't learn a language by age 6, it's hard, and then think that them learning a language would be unpleasant and that's that... what if they thought things through? What if they talked to someone that has already learned multiple languages as an adult... and loves doing it... AND has produced this experience to others? Who knows more about it? Well, it doesn't matter, because the person with the beliefs that it's hard, will often not shift their beliefs. They won't BELIEVE the person telling them it's easy... and their perception will persist, despite arguably being obviously the less qualified opinion.
Opinions make enormous differences. Is that person worth befriending? Marrying? Starting a business with? These are such unique questions that depend so strongly on so many IDEAS. What's friendship? What's the future hold? What will you do? What will they do? How do you know?
Have you ever played a game? Drawn a picture? Written a story? Invented something? Discovered something? Where does that come from? What shapes that?
You could simply believe you will never amount to anything significant. Maybe that's fine and reasonable. But what if you had the simple openness to consider that you could discover something. What does it mean to discover something significant anyways? Sure, a cure for cancer would have more impact to mankind than discovering there's a sandwich shop 2 miles away that makes what will soon be your favorite sandwich... but dang... wouldn't that be nice to have your favorite sandwich whenever you want? To be able to be excited about the meal... to be happy to pay... to see the sandwich maker smile in gratitude as you say thanks and give a healthy tip? It's not the cure for cancer, but it might represent a real change in a person's life. Maybe they meet someone nice at that shop. They become a regular, they feel part of the local community, they find some events on the message board, things develop... heck maybe they end up developing the cure for cancer after all! There's an ad for a community college there or a tutor or maybe there's one of those free book libraries and they get to reading. Who knows.
Now obviously it would be a bit wild to just say "go to the sandwich shop... you just might cure cancer"... but arguably it would be more wild to say "you CAN NOT cure cancer at the sandwich shop". Having a sense of possibility - which is expressed in language - is more frequently tied to reality - than expressing certainty about something possibly extremely unlikely - being impossible.
In my opinion, we should aim towards the positively impossible - meaning looking towards the best possible outcomes and going in that direction. What if we could make a huge impact on the world? What if we could improve our lives tremendously beyond what we know? What if we could help others? What if we could grow positively? What if we could grow in intelligence? What if we could grow in wisdom? In integrity? Do we even know in what direction to grow?
A lot of what I said are my ideas. My context. My thought patterns. There are so many ways to improve. Perhaps I could have said it all in fewer words. Certainly. Perhaps some approaches were off base. Perhaps this itself is. But part of the point is to reflect on thoughts, to see that, to recognize it, and produce beyond it.
It's powerful. Just consider the idea that fallibility exists and can persist. "I was thinking about it all wrong" - is that you? It's certainly me on so many things. If there's limitless possibilities to better thinking, how often are we really thinking right?
I think that orienting ourselves towards betterment, having humility, and putting thoughts in context while examining the mechanisms by which they seem to work can work for us here.
What do you want? What are your actual thoughts about it? What else could you think about? What information would make a difference? What are you CHOOSING in those thoughts? What if there's a LOT more choice opportunity than previously considered. Do you want that?
Nearly everything in your life connects to your thoughts about it. You do or don't do x, y, and z because your thoughts around x, y, or z.
Your thoughts around x, y, or z are almost never at 100% accuracy and 100% understanding. Sometimes they can be at some level of understanding where it's tough to even use a percentage to express it!
You may think something is good, when it is bad. What percentage of understanding is this?
You may not know something that makes a life changing decision differ. This is almost certainly the case!
We don't know SO MUCH. So how come we don't think like it?
How often, when we are stressing and suffering do we TRULY act like WE ARE IGNORANT? Compare that to how often we are CERTAIN that things are bad, we are certain WHY they're bad, we may even be certain about the supposed solution (often something that we feel won't or can't happen), and then certain that our suffering is appropriate and our thoughts are normal, proper, acceptable (even though we may struggle against them the whole time)?
How often do people accept their previous behaviors as dysfunctional and recognize the growth opportunity?
I know it can feel hard to believe that better things are possible and coming when we feel such pain and strife, or think that things can be different when we are so used to things "being the same"... but this is really indicative of not recognizing the power of thought.
Thinking a different thought is a very meaningful event.
It's arguably more meaningful to change an attitude than change a location. What would be better, if you learned to believe in your potential and act on it, or if you moved to another city?
If you think going to another city would make the difference, why? Do other people's opinions change you? Well, they certainly can! Interacting with people is essential to life. Having people you love around is obviously valuable and people's attitudes about you can change your behavior. If someone else believes in you, maybe you will believe in yourself. There are certain things where it really does connect with other people. If you really want to "feel attractive" or "loved", it ultimately will probably involve someone else being attracted to you and loving you... but that doesn't change the fact that your own thoughts could block attraction or love from someone else or block your own behavior that would let that love flow. Same for money, opportunities, health etc...
What's your default thought about love and relationships?
Do you by default think, "it's good to think about that; by thinking I understand more, by understanding more things improve. Even if my thoughts seem to feel bad, it's good to be aware, and process and learn and grow... and thoughts can really lead to amazing places"? Or are you likely to get triggered by the topic and wish to avoid or not even consciously wish to avoid but just find some kind of overwhelming emotions taking you somewhere?
What if the default perception of "thinking" was that it's a tool that gets things done. It's a tool to see what's going on under the hood. That it can be upgraded, repaired, replaced, understood, and wondered about?
What if we spent more time in a place without stiff certainty and replace it with vibrant possibility? Or what if we combine some sense of certainty with possibility? We know we want better, we know we want to take righteous action, we know we want to make wise decisions... we know we want to use information well... we want to be open to integrating new relevant information...
It may not be so complicated as well. I'm going pretty deep on a lot of big picture stuff that may make it seem like this is really heady trippy stuff... relax. Something else about thoughts is that we can just go from thought to thought. We can leave a thoughtspace and come back later. Which is what I intend to do soon.
I am learning more than six languages. I have spent a good deal of time with: English, Hebrew, Spanish, French, German, Russian and have spent shorter amounts of time with many other languages.
I know enough in those six languages to be able to have fun and be reasonably functional in them.
I wrote today's text simply because I wanted to give some background to an idea: that it's good to learn language from people that are slightly ahead of you rather than native speakers, and it would be nice to have some way to find step by step access to people who are a bit ahead each time.
Thinking of an actual staircase, a good staircase has steps with a gap small enough for a person to easily move from step to step. Similarly, just because someone is at a much higher level does not mean they're more capable of taking you there than someone at a lower level. Sure, the person at the lower level may not take you all the way to the highest level, but they might be much more helpful than the person at the higher level. The person at the higher level might help you much less at a much higher cost to both of you, while the person on the lower level may be able to help you without even trying much.
When thinking about functional "thinking" in general we can consider which thoughts are the next step rather than just trying to make an enormous change. People may think they're fat and immediately want to think they're fit. People may think they're poor and immediately want to think they're rich. People may think they're unlovable and immediately wish to think about how they're in love.
It might not work that way.
But what does work is to simply accept the thought and feeling where it is, and then see how we can grow it in the direction we desire.